BACKGROUND:  Selection of a cord blood (CB) unit for allogeneic transplantation relies on graft characterization results provided by cord blood banks (CBBs). The goal was to compare the graft characterization results obtained upon thawing and washing to those provided by CBBs at selection.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS:  With tests that assess CB graft characteristics known to impact engraftment, CB units have been analyzed after thaw and before infusion. Our results were compared to data provided by CBBs to determine the impact on engraftment and assess how CBB-supplied information can affect future CB unit selection.

RESULTS:  Variability was noted as to the type of information provided by the different CBBs. Also, variability was found between the information provided by CBBs and the graft characterization results obtained upon thawing and washing. In some cases, CB measures known to be predictive of engraftment were found much lower than reported by CBBs. Only the total nucleated cell count, which is the main CB graft selection criterion besides HLA matching, correlated favorably.

CONCLUSIONS:  Our data reveal a high degree of variability in graft characteristics provided by CBBs and often poor correlation with results obtained on thawed and washed CB units. We suggest that standardized laboratory procedures aimed at graft characterization should be used by both CBBs and transplant centers to avoid unacceptable discrepancies.